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roaring peals of thunder added an awful solemnity to the scene. The trumpet sounding with a long and increasingly tremendous blast, accompianed as it was by the mountain shaking to its centre, appalled the trembling multitude: and Jehovah's voice, uttering with inconceivable majesty his authorative commands, caused even Moses himself to say, I exceedingly fear and quake.* In consequence of this terrific scene we are told that the people “ removed and stood afar off,"+ lest the fire should consume them, or the voice of God strike them dead upon the spot. Now though this was in them a mere slavish fear, and the request founded upon it had respect only to their temporal safety, yet the sentiment itself was good, and worthy of universal adoption. God being hidden from our sen. ses, so that we neither see nor hear him, we are ready to think lightly of him, and even to rush into his more immediate presence without any holy awe upon our minds;
Compare Exod. xix. 16–19. with Heb. xii. 18-21. + Exod. xx. 18, 19. Ver. 21. above cited.
but when he speaks to us in thunder or by an earthquake, the most hardened rebel is made to feel that “ with God is terrible majesty," and that 6 be is to be had in reverence 6 by all that are round about him." This is a lesson which God has abundantly taught us by his dealings with the Jews. Among the men of Bethshemesh, a great multitude were slain for their irreverent curiosity in looking into the ark; as Uzzah also after. wards was for his well-meant but erroneous zeal in presuming to touch it. The reason of such acts of severity is told us in the history of Nadab and Abihu, who were struck dead for offering strange fire on the altar of their God: they are designed to teach us, 66 that God will be sanctified in all that come nigh unto him, and before all the people he will be glorified."*
The next thing to be noticed is, Their desire to have some person appointed who should act as a mediator between God and them. They probably had respect only to the present occasion; but God interpreted their words as general, and as importing a request that he would send them a permanent Mediator, who should transact all their business, as it were, with God, making known to him their wants, and communi. cating from him the knowledge of his will. That God did construe their words in this extended sense, we are informed by Moses in a subsequent chapter of this book. In 18th of Deut. and 15th and following verses, this explanation of the matter is given. “ The Lord thy God will raise up into thee a Prophet from the midst of the of thy brethren like unto me; unto him shall
* Lev. X. 1-3.
hearken, according to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. And the Lord said unto me, they have well spoken that which they have spokeń. I WILL RAISE THEM UP A PROPHET FROM AMONG THEIR BRETHREN like unto thee, and will put my words in His moutb ; and
He shall speak unto them all that I eommand him: and it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which He shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.” Who this Prophet was, we are at no loss to declare ; for the apos. tle Peter, endeavouring to convince the Jews from their own Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ, and that Moses himself bad required them to believe in him, cites these very words as referring to Christ, and calls upon them to regard him as that very Me. diator, whom God had sent in answer to the petitions which had been offered by their forefathers at Mount Horeb.*
Here it should be remembered that we are speaking not from conjecture, but from infallible authority; and that the construction we are putting on the text is, not a fanciful interpretation of our own, but God's own exposition of his own words.
Behold then the sentiment expressed in our text, and the commendation given to it. by God himself; it is a sentiment which is the very sum and substance of the whole gospel ; it is a sentiment, which whosoever embraces truly, and acts upon it faithfully, cau never perish, but shall have eternal life. The preceding sentiment, that we are incapable of standing before an holy God, is good, as introductory to this, but this is the crown of all; this consciousness that we cannot come to God, and that God will not come to us, but through Christ. This acquiescence in him as the divinely appointed Mediator; this acceptance of him as “ the Way, the Truth, and the Life;" this sentiment, I say, God did, and will approve, wheresoever it may be found. The Lord grant that we may all embrace this sentiment as we ought; and that, having tasted its sweetness and felt its efficacy, we may attain by means of it all the blessings which a due reception of it will insure !
* Acts iii. 22, 23.